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Welcome C-47 Southern Cross to the DC-3 Society

Welcome C-47 Southern Cross to the DC-3 Society

Featured written by Miranda Pressley, director of marketing, Greatest Generation Aircraft

James Terry originally owned a Cessna 182 in hopes to help his son, Patrick, chase his dreams of being a pilot. In the early days of Patrick's college career at University of Jacksonville, which was the Academy for Delta Airlines, he was set on the path of being a commercial pilot. By graduation day, he told his dad he no longer wanted to be a commercial pilot, he wanted to be a jump pilot. Thus started the search for a worthy plane to make his dream a reality. Patrick told his dad, James, there was a high-performance DC-3 aircraft located in California he wanted to purchase, so off they went to California. They inspected the old plane and ultimately ended up trading their family Cessna 210 for the DC-3 Southern Cross. The Southern Cross was well known at the time, being used as a jump plane for years. It had been completely stripped out and equipped with 1820-76D engines to fly the jumpers. The gentleman that sold them the plane offered to stay for 30 days and teach Patrick how to fly jumpers and maintain the aircraft. At the end of the 30 days, Patrick was a qualified jump pilot and off he went to fly jumpers full time. A few years later, disaster struck. In Gainesville, Texas, the Southern Cross along with two other DC-3 ended up in a pile in the middle of the airfield due to a massive tornado that wiped away everything in its path. Patrick's days of flying the Southern Cross for work were over and he handed James the keys. The Southern Cross was heavily damaged and should have been scrapped but because of the amount of money James had already put into the aircraft, the only way to break even was to get her flying again. It took two years and an entire donor plane to make all the parts and pieces work to finally have a flying DC-3 again. The Southern Cross got painted back to her original WWII colors and began doing airshows to support herself. Because of her popularity at airshows and the call for adventures and fun weekends, James added her to the roster for the Pacific Prowler Non-Profit.

Pacific Prowler Non-Profit dba Greatest Generation Aircraft is a 501C-3 Nonprofit organization which was chartered to preserve America’s flying heritage from the beginning of World War II through the Vietnam war. Our mission is to safeguard this part of our aviation heritage to honor the men and women that served in that era. This is accomplished by keeping a piece of their history alive for future generations to see and appreciate the service and sacrifice of our forefathers and honor them as the hero’s they are. Pacific Prowler Non-Profit dba Greatest Generation Aircraft was founded by James Terry and a small group of men in 2008 that shared a common goal, keeping the promise of “we shall never forget.” What started out as a B-25 single aircraft from World War II grew into numerous aircraft that expanded into the Vietnam era, eventually landing us the C-47 Southern Cross. The organization itself expanded from those humble beginnings of just 8 men to volunteers and supporters numbering in the hundreds throughout the years. Recognizing that our honored veterans were fading away, we instituted the policy of having the veterans sign the inside of the aircraft. In the early days, signatures accumulated rapidly, filling the Bombay of a B25 and now the fuselage of our C-47. Today, most of these men have passed but passengers entering the aircraft for a short sightseeing flight are able to marvel at the signatures which really brings home the reality that these men were real, and we will not let them be forgotten.

Our organization is vibrantly alive. Dedicated volunteers gather every weekend at our home hangar, Vintage Flying Museum, to provide helping hands for the extensive maintenance required to keep multiple aircraft flying. They do this to honor the servicemen they not only served with, but also to honor the veterans that served before them. All our aircraft are maintained in flying condition and fly regularly with the help of our fine men and women volunteers. Our C-47 aircraft is financially supported through educational programs for the younger generations and by providing sightseeing flights, airshow appearances, parades, flyovers, funerals, and parachute jump operations.

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